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2019 Spec Faith Summer Writing Challenge

As has been the case for the last several years, Spec Faith’s 2019 summer writing challenge comes with rewards. First, there’s feedback.

As we approach the 2019 “dog days of summer,” a term adopted by baseball players to describe the hot days in August when the season became a real grind, we at Spec Faith offer a writer’s alternative: our summer writing challenge!

Summer ought to be the time when you do what you love—go on a family vacation, relax by the pool or at the beach, read good books. For writers who recently returned from the Realm Makers conference, the challenge might be the perfect writing exercise to try out something you learned, or to get you back into the writing flow after all the fun and games. For the rest of us, it might be a break from the usual. And of course it might be the spark we need to get our creative juices flowing. Besides, I know of at least one book project that has developed as a result of a Spec Faith challenge. You never know!

As has been the case for the last several years, Spec Faith’s 2019 summer writing challenge comes with rewards. There’s feedback from other Spec Faith visitors and there’s the potential for a $25 gift card from either Amazon or Barnes and Noble. And for readers, there are stories or story beginnings to enjoy. It’s all very win-win!

As a refresher, here’s how this summer writing challenge works:

• I’ll give a first line, and those who wish to accept the challenge will write what comes next—in 100 to 300 words, putting your entry into the comments section of this post.

“What comes next” may be the opening of a novel, a short story, or a completed piece of flash fiction—your choice.

In keeping with Spec Faith’s primary focus on the intersection of speculative fiction and the Christian faith, writers may wish to incorporate Christian elements or to write intentionally from a Christian worldview, but neither is required. Likewise, I’d expect speculative elements, or the suggestion of such, but entries will not be disqualified because of their omission.

• Readers will give a thumbs up (NO THUMBS DOWN, PLEASE!) to the ones they like the most (unlimited number of thumbs up), and, if they wish, they may give a comment to the various entries, telling what particularly grabbed their attention. They may also wish to critique other entries in a positive way that would benefit and/or encourage the writer.

By the way, I’m hoping we get lots of those type of responses—it’s always helpful for entrants to know what they did right and what they could have done to improve.

After the designated time, I’ll re-post the top three (based on the number of thumbs up) and visitors will have a chance to vote on which they believe is the best (one vote only).

• I’ll again sweeten the pot and offer a $25 gift card (from either Amazon or Barnes and Noble) to the writer of the entry that receives the most votes (as opposed to the most thumbs up). In the event of a tie, a drawing will be held between the top vote-getters to determine the winner.

And now, the first line:

Jag couldn’t be a part of the rebellion any more—not with what he knew now—but could he convince the other rebels to lay down their arms?

Finally, those silly little details we all need to know:

  • You must include the given first line without changing it. (IE don’t switch verb tenses, don’t write in first person instead of third, don’t add description, or make any other changes to the first line. Pour your creativity into what comes after this line).
  • Your word count does not include this first line.
  • You will have between now and midnight (Pacific time) this coming Sunday, August 4, to post your challenge entries in the comments section below.
  • You may reply to entries and give thumbs up, this week and next. To have your thumbs up counted to determine the top three entries, mark your favorite entries before Sunday, August 11.
  • Voting begins Monday, August 12.

Feel free to invite your friends to participate, either as writers or readers, and even those who have participated before. The 2019 challenge is open to published or unpublished authors, those who have won the award before and those who are just starting out. The more entries and the more feedback, the better the challenge.

However, please note, the 2019 challenge is NOT a popularity contest. We want to give writers a chance to find out what readers actually think of their writing. Consequently, please do not ask your social media followers to give your selection a vote unless they read the other entries as well. Thanks for making this little exercise a valuable help to all who enter.

Best known for her aspirations as an epic fantasy author, Becky is the sole remaining founding member of Speculative Faith. Besides contributing weekly articles here, she blogs Monday through Friday at A Christian Worldview of Fiction. She works as a freelance writer and editor and posts writing tips as well as information about her editing services at Rewrite, Reword, Rework.

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Connor Sassmannshausen
Guest

Jag couldn’t be a part of the rebellion any more—not with what he knew now—but could he convince the other rebels to lay down their arms?
It had all started as a bit of teenage rebellion, then he’d actually believed what they told him. But as he rose through the ranks, the more he learned just what the rebellion truly was. And it wasn’t nice.
How had he not realized? All the signs were there, but he’d been blinded by the glamour of the propaganda.
And what he’d learned was far worse than anything the minority corrupt government was doing. But the leaders of the rebellion were just hiding things in the shadows, keeping their dirty secrets buried until they took power.
And what a world that would be. The skewed and biased democracy of now would seem like a utopia compared to what was coming. The militant oppression and faction-ized society would prove to help no one but those in power, which wouldn’t include many of the people who fought to put it there.
Their leaders talked a good game, but ultimately cared little for the soldiers fighting and dying for a cause that was no better than candy coated poison.
But how could he get people to listen. They’ve been so indoctrinated with the beliefs the rebellion fed them, would they even believe him?
And even if they did, would he be able to spread it fast enough or get enough followers that the leaders of the rebellion would hesitate before ending his life?

Sophie
Guest
Sophie

Jag couldn’t be a part of the rebellion any more—not with what he knew now—but could he convince the other rebels to lay down their arms?

No. He couldn’t. Because that meant defeat.

The lair was filled with hot smoke from the boy’s pipes, and their laughter turned the hardiest player to shame.

The Black Fox’s emblem on his arm burned like the sparks from rebel eyes. He couldn’t say why he had allowed himself to be stamped. The heat had cut razor marks into his smooth skin, but nothing hurt worse than the rebellion in his chest that now lay dead. This meant that in order to keep his life and rid himself of the stamp, he must convince the gang to heed him.

How?

They wouldn’t lay down their arms. Their muscles were taut; elbows nailed like tar into the round barrel tables. Their opponents, the Brunch gang, sat opposite to each Black Fox boy, hands interlocked with a death grip. The process of elimination was well underway.

Jag felt the heat of the smoke pipes grow warmer as one by one, the Brunch member’s arms fell to the wooden table top with a defeated thump, and the Black Foxes cursed for their victory.

Two tables left of boys arm-wrestling. He looked to the confining emblem on his arm.

And then. . .

Yes. He could. Because that meant victory.

Sarah Daffy
Guest
Sarah Daffy

Awesome!

Katie Rose
Guest
Katie Rose

Fantastic job.

Sarah Daffy
Guest
Sarah Daffy

Jag couldn’t be a part of the rebellion any more—not with what he knew now—but could he convince the other rebels to lay down their arms?

He had to. He must.

But then again, he was the only one armed with a paperclip.

Now he knew that a paperclip was not strong enough to defeat the enemy. He also knew that when they reached contact with the outside world where it was raining, they would be stripped bare of everything they had ever known. Why, oh, why did he have to be a paper doll?

He aimed his paperclip at the pointed pen caps of the opposing party which was making its way toward the cracked window.

He had to stop them. He had to. He must.

How? He hadn’t figured that out yet.

He was just focused on aiming the paperclip.

C. S. Wachter
Member

I loved the creativity here. Paper dolls and paper clips? And such courage. Nice job.

Sophie
Guest
Sophie

Sarah! I love the humor. 😉 This is definitely an entertaining piece.

Kathy
Guest
Kathy

Oh the suspense! Will someone get a paper cut, will he make it through the broken window? I guess we will have to wait…

Audie Thacker
Member

Jag couldn’t be a part of the rebellion any more—not with what he knew now—but could he convince the other rebels to lay down their arms?

“I tell you, you have been lied to. Lied to!”

But the others would not listen. “You are the one lying to us, Jag.”

“No, I am not. I have tried it for myself.”

That got a reaction, and not a good one. “What? You have profaned yourself!”

“No, no, there is nothing wrong with it. It is good, it is very good.”

“Blasphemy! Heresy!”

And so, Jag had to flee, his heart heavy, though by necessity his feet were very light. He fled, avoiding the clutching hands and bitter insults of those who moments before had called him friend and ally.

He fled, but he knew it was to a better place, a place where he could live in and enjoy the truth: that pineapple really does belong on pizza.

Kendra
Guest
Kendra

HA HA!! Good one.

ZenDaya
Guest
ZenDaya

Great job. I like how you ended it on a humorous note. Keep writing. 🙂

Katie Rose
Guest
Katie Rose

Nice.

Kelly
Guest

Great story! The ending made me chuckle, and I, too, believe pineapple belongs on pizza.

C. S. Wachter
Member

I liked the twist at the end. Pineapple on pizza? Of course!

Patrick Lauser
Guest

Jag couldn’t be a part of the rebellion any more—not with what he knew now—but could he convince the other rebels to lay down their arms? He ran his trembling fingers through his hair, and they came away drenched in… it felt as if they were drenched in… but it was only sweat.

He watched them drilling in the mire; the thickest mud was splashed in the vigorous movements of their boots. He leaned his weakened body against the wall, as rain began to come down beyond the edge of the awning. If only they could see what he had… but he remembered what had become of Marc. They wouldn’t look. It was only the sheer pity at what they had done to Marc that had stirred up any curiosity in him to look.

It came back him, what he had seen, like an ambush it appeared before him again: the offering closing his eyes as the oil ran down his face. Could he tell them? They would kill him for a liar. He felt like executing his own two eyes as false witnesses against his leaders: it would be such a relief for it to be a lie. Could he show them? Again, they would not look.

A stiffening ran through him like steel. A prank, and Kanson would gladly take credit for it. They would be locked in, they wouldn’t dare announce their presence. Just on the other side of the wall… it would take place, while they listened. It would take place there, because an accident would defile the customary hall, the only other that had the necessary astronomic orientation.

Half the camp would know for themselves what their leaders meant by “the Rites of Wodinsday”.

Kendra
Guest
Kendra

This is pretty good. 🙂

Ashlea Adams
Guest

Jag couldn’t be a part of the rebellion any more—not with what he knew now—but could he convince the other rebels to lay down their arms?

“Prince Davyn is right. We must not given in to the demands of Queen Madre!” Princess Alynia raised her driftwood scepter above her head. “Who is with me?

“But he’s a traitor, Princess Alynia!” Jag thrusts his finger at Prince Davyn.

“Am not!”

“Prince Jag, these are serious accusations. I do hope you have proof. Prince Davyn is my intended.”

Jag shakes his head, not sure what Alynia intended to do with Davyn but it can’t be good. “He has been spying for Queen Madre. Telling her all our plans.”

Davyn scoffs and stomps his feet. “Did not!”

Alynia clutches her driftwood scepter to her chest. “He would never betray me!”

“If he didn’t, then how did the Queen know your agents raided the Queen’s stores?”

Alynia gasps and rounds on Davyn whose mouth snaps shut. He swallows hard and takes a step back.

“You swore to never tell!”

“Jag made me do it.”

“Did not. The Queen threatened him with a week’s chores.”

“I got you a whole bag of cookies!” She tackles Davyn with a battle cry. “Traitor!”

Jag winces as they smash the sandcastle.

“What under the stars are you two squabbling over?”

“It’s the Queen! Run!” Jag jerks them both by the arms and hauls them toward the lifeguard stand.

“Did she see us?”

They peek out behind the stairs at the Queen, neon warpaint across her nose and cheeks, as she lounges beneath her umbrella.

“I think we’re safe,” Jag says.

“For now.” Alynia jabs her elbow into Davyn’s ribs.

ZenDaya
Guest
ZenDaya

I like it! Good work. 🙂

Ashlea Adams
Guest
Ashlea Adams

Thank you!

ZenDaya
Guest
ZenDaya

Of course!

Kendra
Guest
Kendra

This is a good one!

Ashlea Adams
Guest
Ashlea Adams

Thank you!

Kelly
Guest

The opening sentence is in past tense, as is your action beat between the first dialogue lines of Alynia, but then you change your verbs to present tense for the rest of the story. Try to be aware of what tense you begin your verbs in and keep them consistent throughout the story.
I like the story. It painted a cute picture in my mind of children playing on the beach while one of the moms relaxes under her beach umbrella. A fitting summer story.

Ashlea Adams
Guest
Ashlea Adams

You are absolutely right! I added those first sentences after the prompt in the last edit and completely forgot about my chosen tense. 🤦‍♀️ Thank you!

Kendra
Guest
Kendra

Jag couldn’t be a part of the rebellion any more—not with what he knew now—but could he convince the other rebels to lay down their arms? Glancing around at the numerous other [rebels] chatting and sparring with each other, he had his doubts.

Glancing over at the rebels’ leader, Jag wondered how one so petite could be so volatile. Her temper became well-known as she ascended the ranks in school, managing to complete each grade with high success.

Why, then, he wondered now, is she leading a band of youthful rebels against those who oppose her? He glanced around fearfully, his heart pounding that he might be caught. No one knew he wasn’t with the resistance. No one knew his real name, or that he had a family wanting him to return home in one piece.

They don’t know anything about me, he thought as he peered around – hopefully in an unnoticeable way. It was dangerous for him to be here. But he had to come. He had to get revenge upon those who took his brother’s life less than six months ago.

And I will. Jag fingered the thin chain around his neck. It held Jackson’s class ring from the year he graduated. Lifting his head and staring hard at the leader of the rebels, he could feel his heart pounding with excitement and fear.

Tonight I strike.

Kendra
Guest
Kendra

I’m sorry. I had thoughts in italics when I first wrote it.

Kelly
Guest

I agree with Rebecca Miller’s comment about things being a bit confusing in regard to the rebellion. Also, yes, if you put his thoughts in italics, you wouldn’t have to say “he thought”. One last thing, you used the word glancing several times in such a short story. It’s good to find a synonym and change it ups sometimes.

Harry Safa
Guest
Harry Safa

Jag couldn’t be a part of the rebellion any more—not with what he knew now—but could he convince the other rebels to lay down their arms? After all everyone was fed up with their ‘superiors’ abusing them. Human beings. They had suffered torment. They had been burnt and filled with a hot liquid. All for the sake of a human’s pleasure. They had fought back using steam to drive humans away. Another tactic was to make themselves ‘ugly’. They wore paint over their faces and they hoped what they had chosen, would put humans off from buying them off the shelves. They had also tried to adjust their shapes, in the hopes that if their paint didn’t deter the humans, their shapes would.

Jag paced up and down. This action was within his mind. He didn’t have legs. How would he convince everybody about what he had learnt? That wallpaper and not human beings were the enemy? Especially when everybody thought they had an alliance with wallpaper? Humans had abused them too.  They had stuck them onto walls. All to make their houses look more pretty.

“Listen up!” He said with all the courage he could muster. “We need to put down our pencils. After all we can’t draw various art forms and bring them to life with our magic, to attack humans anymore.”

The other cups mumbled among themselves. Some laughed. “Are you crazy?”

“No, you see humans are innocent.”

“What?”

“Wallpaper has been shape shifting and disguising themselves as humans by eating boots. They disguise themselves as the humans who drink us. All so they can trick more allies into avenging them.”

The other cups were applauded that Jeg could accuse their allies for such a treachery.

“Push him over the kitchen sink!”

This was how Jag met his fate. He shattered into several shards upon impact.

Kelly
Guest

This story is extremely confusing. At the beginning, I thought Jag was some kind of toy. Also, your use of wallpaper as a plural without adding an “s” to the end was also confusing, and I had no idea what it meant for wallpaper to eat boots. At the end it sounds like Jag is a cup, but I cannot see how a cup could draw, and you mention the humans “drinking them”, but a human doesn’t drink a cup, they drink from a cup.
It think this story could be good with some clarification of these confusing items. I like the art idea.

Harry Safa
Guest
Harry Safa

Yeah I see your point I’m going to try again with a better story next time

E. Clayton Rowe
Guest

Jag couldn’t be part of the rebellion any more–not with what he knew now–but could he convince the other rebels to lay down their arms?

Their legs, no problem. Metal treads or carbon fiber wheels, ostrich trotters or flea leapers: these could be donned and doffed as needs and desires demanded. But a good arm was hard to find, harder still to adopt as one’s own. Plumbing bits and bobs shuffled in and out of cyborg bodies with abandon. And a decent kidney could last a year or more at half the cost of canine odor receptors or a square meter of reinforced alligator hide.

Jag 13-Delta closed the human right eye and looked at his new appendages with the cat-eye fully dilated against the fitful starlight. An infiltration skin had to be organic, but these arms and hands were entirely human, grown from his own stem cells so they could fit his nervous system without an interface. How fearfully and wonderfully made they were!

“13-Delta, do you read?”

“Uh, Roger. Yeah, whatever. I’m, ah, getting some weird feedback. It’s like I can feel each and every hair on my epidermis.”

” Just focus on the objective, private. We can’t dial it down from here.”

Kelly
Guest

This is an interesting story. I like the Cyborg idea, but there’s nothing showing Jag trying to stop a rebellion.

C. S. Wachter
Member

Jag couldn’t be a part of the rebellion any more—not with what he knew now—but could he convince the other rebels to lay down their arms?

His head threatened to split open and spill his overwrought brains onto the floor.

Marissa would never understand.

Trolls’ code stated the king must be a descendent of Warbane, and now Jag knew their uprising was based on a lie, the king was of the line. They had been deceived by Nelcor, the troll seeking to steal Warmaker’s throne.

Jag thumped up the central passage to his home cave. He flung the door open with enough force it rebounded off the wall.

Marissa turned; her murky green eyes wide. “You know?”

Jag pulled up. “You knew?”

“Of course, she knew. We have been planning this for years.” Nelcor’s powerful frame filled the doorway to the kitchen.

Marissa moved toward Jag. “Please, Jag, understand. Nelcor will be a stronger king. Even you said so.”

Jag’s roar shook the cave. “The line of kings is ordained! This is wrong!” His gaze shifted between Marissa and Nelcor. He roared again, turned, and bounded out the door, grabbing his warclub as he ran.

Nelcor, the troll who had been like a father to him, was a traitor. The thought soured Jag’s stomach.

Jag didn’t stop until he reached Eagle’s Flight, an opening to the outside world high above the cave system he called home. What was he to do? Warmaker’s reign had been plagued with weakness and excess. Nelcor would be a wise king. Was the line of kings truly ordained?

Jag had always been a simple troll and these thoughts turned his brain to mush.

Stepping out onto the ledge, Jag made his choice. The wind rustled his clothing as he dropped his club and faced the rising sun. One lone tear leaked from his eye, preserved for eternity, as he turned to stone.

Kelly
Guest

Enjoyable story. It is sad that in the end, Jag chooses to turn to stone because he cannot bring himself to go against what he believes is right, but I really like the ending.

C. S. Wachter
Member

Thanks for your comments. The choice was just too hard for the poor troll.

Gene Brode, Jr
Guest

Nice! You included the struggle, showed what the rebellion was about, and turned it into a complete story.

C. S. Wachter
Member

Thank you! Once the idea of trolls came to me, it seemed to flow. I had fun writing this.

Anna Young
Guest

Jag couldn’t be part of the rebellion any more – not with what he knew now – but could he convince the other rebels to lay down their arms?

“I must try,” he thought. “Or my fellows will be-” he stopped short, glancing back at the cave behind him, “-incinerated.” Smoke still billowed from the cave entrance and he could feel the monster’s low growls through the ground with his paws. “Yes, I must!” He resolved.

He twirled his whiskers, thinking. What could he do? Moreover, who could he persuade that their all out assault was not going to work? His own mates would be with him, most of them. The wolves might see reason if he could convince their leader, Liath, then the pack would follow. Jag thought through the rest of the rebels: the badgers would certainly follow if the wolves backed down, the birds were easy to convince, the foxes were rational creatures, the mice now they would be a tough sell. The bears would be the hardest to convince. They were itching for a fight, and had suffered the greatest injustice at the hands Luthas and the Mutants. If Jag could convince Liath and wolves to abandon the rebellion, and go for a more subtle, more cunning approach, then he would have a better argument when it came to talking with the others.

So, to Liath he went first. Jag found the old, grey wolf lounging with his partner, the alpha female, Ban. Jag bowed low before the two alphas, and waited for them to bow in return. Thankfully, they did.
Jag began, looking at first at Laith, but he lay his head down, and instead it was Ban who spoke.
“What did you find?” she asked.
“Luthras is more powerful than we thought. This won’t work. We will be destroyed.” Jag looked a little behind Ban, where one of her pups lay sleeping. “All of us. The cost is just too high.”

Gene Brode, Jr
Guest

I think you’ve got a good start to a longer story.

Kelly
Guest

Jag couldn’t be a part of the rebellion any more—not with what he knew now—but could he convince the other rebels to lay down their arms? He had to try. The life of someone he loved deeply depended on it.
At dusk he stepped into the rebel camp and entered the commander’s tent.
“What is it?” Traeger scowled at him.
“Sir, there has to be a better way to do this. Why are you so bent on destroying the merpeople in Leverton Lake? They only wish to be left in peace.”
“Are you mad? I’ve lost twenty-eight men to those mermaids in the past two weeks. I’ll not have any more of my men drown because they fall to their desires.”
“Can’t you train your men to resist their desires? Don’t you read the Golden Book to them every night?”
Traeger paused, studying Jag, the thumb and index finger of one hand on his chin, his thumb stroking his chin. “Why are you so interested in protecting the merpeople? One of those mermaids get under your skin?”
“Don’t be ridiculous. I remain loyal to the rebel cause. I just prefer to avoid unnecessary bloodshed.”
“Hm-mm. We’ll see.”
Jag turned and stomped from the tent, his heart pounding like a sledgehammer in his chest. If he couldn’t save all the merpeople, he’d at least save one.
He ran to the beach in the moonlight, stripping off his shoes, shirt, and jeans as he neared the water. Without hesitation, he entered the water and swam out to the rock—her rock. She was there, waiting. He climbed up and wrapped her in his arms. “Oh Coral, he won’t listen. Why do your sisters and female cousins insist on drawing men to their deaths? I can’t stop Traeger.”
Coral began to sing. The song wrapped around Jag’s heart. When her song ended, Coral kissed Jag’s lips and took his hand. “Come.”
Then they dove into Leverton Lake together.

C. S. Wachter
Member

Falling to temptation, a forbidden love, and a rebellion he must leave behind. Well done!

Kelly
Guest

Thank you!

Gene Brode, Jr
Guest

Intriguing! I’m wondering what will happen next.

Claire Tucker
Guest
Claire Tucker

Jag couldn’t be a part of the rebellion any more—not with what he knew now—but could he convince the other rebels to lay down their arms?

“Have you not heard the starving cries of our children?” he shouted, sweeping an arm over the city of Antika.

Silence rested about the circle, and he stepped into its centre, glancing west. The reddened sun had just touched the top of the distant hills.

When the sun sets …

He was running out of time.

“Raise the white flag,” he begged. “Open the gates. It’s our only chance.”

“To become thralls again, worshipping as commanded,” the General of the Fox division countered.

The sun was slipping behind the hills.

Our tunnels will be completed …

“The Tekoweni have promised mercy, if we only surrender …” Jag replied. Shouting erupted around the circle, the five Generals leaping from their seats. Jag shouted back at them, quoting what he had been told.

Then a dangerous silence fell.

Malcolm had raised his head.

Jag took a deep breath and turned to face their leader. Only half of the red sun remained.

“You speak as one who has personal knowledge, Jag,” Malcolm said quietly, his hand loosely grasping his spear. “Tell me how you know what you do.”

Your walls will collapse, and all within your city will be killed.

Jag’s breath quickened. He couldn’t tell them the truth. They didn’t believe that they could lose.

Unless you surrender, you, your city and your son will be dead this time tomorrow.

“You inspected the walls last night, Jag,” Malcolm continued. “Was that all you did?”

He took a deep breath. “No.”

The others grasped his arms firmly, yelling ‘traitor’ as they forced him to his knees. He didn’t fight them. The General of the Fox raised his sword as the final sliver of the sun vanished.

Jag closed his eyes, and a single tear spilled down his cheek.

Claire Tucker
Guest
Claire Tucker

Hmm. I had tried to mark the thoughts differently … looks like my editing didn’t carry over. Sorry about that

ZenDaya
Guest
ZenDaya

I like it. Good work.

Claire Tucker
Guest
Claire Tucker

Thanks 🙂

Hannu Oksanen
Guest
Hannu Oksanen

This had really good atmosphere and pacing. I liked it 🙂

Claire Tucker
Guest
Claire Tucker

Thanks for your comment! I enjoyed writing this piece 🙂

E. Clayton Rowe
Guest

I voted you up before I knew it was you! Way to go, Claire!

Claire Tucker
Guest
Claire Tucker

Thank you 🙂

Hannu Oksanen
Guest
Hannu Oksanen

“Conviction”

Jag couldn’t be a part of the rebellion anymore – not with what he knew now – but could he convince the other rebels to lay down their arms?

The Captain had lost his mind. It was inexcusable what had been done to his family by the nobles. But so was massacring every noble family in Sarn.

Had the rebellion ever been about justice or had revenge always played a bigger role? The massacre had awoken Jag to this realization and to the state of his own soul. It had felt good to finally stand up to the masters. As equals in the battlefield. And when they we’re victorious at last he could be the one holding power over those that had held it over him before.

The rebellion had started out triumphantly. They had gotten the nobles by surprise and won many victories great and small. The losers had started to spread an offer among the victors – cease hostilities now and everyone under the rank of captain will be forgiven. The rebels had laughed at the nobles’ gall.

Jag now wondered if the offer still stood. Maybe. At least until news from Sarn got out. It was their only chance anyway. The rebellion was a lost cause now and the spirit of vengeance had gotten a hold of the nation. Atrocity upon atrocity.

“God. Forgive me”, Jag prayed. “I knew what I was doing was wrong and did it anyway. I wanted vengeance. I never cared about justice. I wanted to rule and not be ruled over. But you showed us not to rule over each other like kings. But to serve even our enemies in love”.

While still praying he could hear a thundering sound in the distance. Cavalry. Thousands strong. From the direction of Sarn. Forgiveness was off the table now. Jag’s comrades were already fleeing in panic. He didn’t feel like running. “In your hands I commit my spirit”.

ZenDaya
Guest
ZenDaya

Well done!

Hannu Oksanen
Guest
Hannu Oksanen

Thank you very much 🙂

Gene Brode, Jr
Guest

Nice spiritual component. I like that you have a complete story, and we don’t know if he’ll survive. Nice job!

Hannu Oksanen
Guest
Hannu Oksanen

Thank you 🙂

Gene Brode, Jr
Guest

You’re welcome.

Gene Brode, Jr
Guest

Jag couldn’t be a part of the rebellion any more—not with what he knew now—but could he convince the other rebels to lay down their arms?

And what would it cost him if he couldn’t? He looked at Laya, restless in the next cot. Her battle-scarred hands twitched beneath the alloy covers, eyelids flicking in REM sleep. The still fresh, jagged scar running from cheekbone to tragus, puffy and pinkish, made him grind his teeth. He couldn’t risk her life again. The picture of this lovely, adopted child he’d cared for since defecting to Mars three years ago, all youth and innocence lost in every inch of scar tissue, only steeled his resolve.

Jag kneeled next to Laya. “Lord, cover us with grace. Protect your daughter and get her home without harm. I don’t care what you do with me, so long as they listen. Open their ears. Amen.”

He rose, lifted his supply pack. He had to get her to Boundary Port. Jag closed the airlock on Laya’s cot, set her levels to medical stasis, and pushed her out of the dormitory and down the long corridor toward the transports. Through the eastern windows, Earth was just rising over the Cerberus Plains, a small, brilliant light. Outland Medical Base was situated across the plains, just before the port. Scout vessels and fighter pilots didn’t have far to carry the wounded when returning to port. This meant Jag didn’t have far to go to commandeer a scout and fly safely to Earth Command 7 in orbit.

His entire body tensed once inside the transport. A military rover was docking, and he recognized Lieutenant Kriswell. He bowed his head, pretended to check Laya’s gauges, then stood and shifted the stick into low, hoping Kriswell wouldn’t notice he was escorting a patient without medical attire. Halfway across, a blue strobe reflected in the windshield, the rover now behind them. “Lord Jesus,” he whispered, slamming the stick into high.

Harry Safa
Guest
Harry Safa

Jag couldn’t be a part of the rebellion any more—not with what he knew now—but could he convince the other rebels to lay down their arms? He was frightened. Thoughts plagued his mind. They ate at his spirit like how moths eat away at clothes. However, he had to tell the people how evil their leader was, despite how beloved he was by the people.

“Our leader has been responsible for the government using a type ancient magic to turn us into art work.”

The portraits gasped in shock. “No way!”

“Yes.” Jag sighed. “Everyone thought it was a ploy by the government as a punishment for speaking out about President Hewman’s corruption. We thought the government used spells to turn us into inanimate objects as a warning, to make us stay silent and to stop other rebels from rising, but…” His watercolour painted eyes looked towards the others. “Our leader Varietta is exploiting us. She wants more rebels to rise. The more rebels…” He had a silent pause. “The more rebels the government can turn into artwork, that she can use in her exhibition.”

Baltic spoke up. “Why is she doing this? Why is the government allowing her to have us, when the government can keep us for themselves?”

“The government needs more allies to stop them falling apart. Without enough mages they dont have enough magicial resources to cast such powerful spells. She helps recruit mages. Varietta has magical ability where she can turn mages into mind slaves. Of course some people, like us for example are immune. However, what Varietta wants more than anything is money. The more art work she has for her exhibition, the more visitors will come. This of course will lead to more buyers, so she can make more commission.”

Harry Safa
Guest
Harry Safa

Good luck everyone!